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post #51 of 143

I'm all for fun theories and such, but you're really barking up the wrong tree with the Smiley-might-be-Karla stuff guys.

post #52 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnotaur3 View Post

That's true that someone's hand was in a shot and the lighter was seen but it's also Smilie's lighter, so that doesn't really verify it being REALLY Karla.
 

 



If Smiley still had the lighter in his possession (thus cementing the whole "Karla and Smiley are the same person" theory), don't you think we'd have had another shot of Smiley with the lighter, after he's told the story to Guillam?  The movie isn't holding your hand but, again, everything that happens is there on screen.  The narrator isn't deliberately holding out on the audience with respect to anything that happens in the movie.

post #53 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post

I think the joyful tone of the ending represents the triumph of emotion over the cold, sterile distance of the rest of the film.  Smiley and Guillam are clearly guided by emotion -- Smiley longs for his estranged wife, Guillam is genuinely distraught over having to turn his lover away -- so that smile Guillam gives Smiley on his return plays all the stronger after the reserved nature of everything that's gone before.  Even Prideaux shooting Haydon is a victory of passion over restraint, since it's done to atone for the betrayal Prideaux suffered.



An interesting interpretation. I was a bit puzzled by the end, given that

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

in the miniseries Smiley meets his wife (who've we've not seen until now) only to tell her that it's Goodbye for good. He's let go of the past, and of his great love in life. In this the movie is an interesting reversal from the mini (and thus the book).

 

post #54 of 143

This movie is also notable for having a score by Danny Elfman that is actually good

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vzeUaB_CbI

post #55 of 143

That was just for the trailer though.  A cue from his score for The Wolfman.

 

But maybe you were just making a dig at Elfman.  If so, sorry!

post #56 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renn Brown View Post

I'm all for fun theories and such, but you're really barking up the wrong tree with the Smiley-might-be-Karla stuff guys.


Yeah, that's really looking for a twist in a story that's already plenty twisty. Through Haydon, Karla already had the Circus dancing to his tune-- as with Kim Philby in real life, just about every network and operation the Brits and Americans had going was blown or turned back against them. Karla orchestrating himself into Control's chair would have been completely unnecessary. The triumphal note of the end was about Smiley taking that chair, vindicating Control, with a chance to maybe undo the damage Haydon had done.

 

I liked the movie a hell of a lot. The first several scenes set up so much so fast, I'd been wondering whether those who hadn't read the book would be able to take it all in. But my wife seemed okay with it, and she's not into this kind of stuff-- I did have to explain to her Haydon's method of passing intelligence to Moscow through the false defector a couple of times though.

 

I've decided to forego re-reading "Tinker, Tailor" and am moving on to "The Honourable Schoolboy" which I haven't read in about 12 years... I remember Jerry Westerby, my favorite character in the"Karla Trilogy", being mentioned in the movie, but did he actually show up? 

 

post #57 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slim View Post

 

 

I've decided to forego re-reading "Tinker, Tailor" and am moving on to "The Honourable Schoolboy" which I haven't read in about 12 years... I remember Jerry Westerby, my favorite character in the"Karla Trilogy", being mentioned in the movie, but did he actually show up? 

 



They gave his name to the communications officer (Collins in the novel) who gets the first report about Prideaux, but otherwise he's not in it. And while I don't know that he was my favorite character, Joss Ackland's Westerby is one of the unsung highlights of the miniseries.

 

I actually started rereading Honourable Schoolboy last week-- I'd forgotten what a terrible slog parts of it can be (it's nearly twice as long as Tinker Tailor), but I recall it paying off in the end.

post #58 of 143

Agh. Now I'm confused-- I just tonight reached the part in "Honourable Schoolboy" where info given by a former fieldman named Sam Collins is what gets Smiley to set Westerby in motion (you're right about some of it being a slog-- but I find that to be the case at the start of all LeCarre's novels). Is that the same Collins?  Have they just combined Westerby with that character? Maybe I should just go back and read "Tinker, Tailor", after all...

 

And maybe watch the two miniseries, as well. It's been even longer since I saw those. They did the first book and "Smiley's People" I remember-- so I guess plot elements of "Honourable Schoolboy" were worked in there somewhere? 

post #59 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slim View Post

Agh. Now I'm confused-- I just tonight reached the part in "Honourable Schoolboy" where info given by a former fieldman named Sam Collins is what gets Smiley to set Westerby in motion (you're right about some of it being a slog-- but I find that to be the case at the start of all LeCarre's novels). Is that the same Collins?  Have they just combined Westerby with that character? Maybe I should just go back and read "Tinker, Tailor", after all...

 

 


In Alfredson's film, the communications officer is called Westerby, but he has the same function as the character of Collins in the novel: relating the story of the night of Prideaux's blown operation. The puzzle pieces that are provided by the version of Weseterby that exists in the novel and miniseries don't really figure prominently in the current film, hence the writing-out of the Westerby character.

 

 My assumption, if they really do think they can franchise this, is that (as the BBC did) they move straight into Smiley's People. My recollection of that miniseries (which, unlike TTSS, I haven't watched recently) is that few if any of the plot points from Honourable Schoolboy are incorporated. I know that LeCarre has said that he should probably have omitted Smiley from Honourable Schoolboy altogether, as he distracts from Westerby's story.
 

 

post #60 of 143

I liked the deliberateness of this movie for the simple fact that they just don't make 'em like that anymore. Movies that require you to pay attention and actually engage you on an intellectual level are a rare breed these days.

 

I would further suggest that anyone who finds this movie "boring" simply wasn't paying attention. Alfredson fills it with so many small, delicious moments that I found it to be bursting at the seams with interesting images and tableaus.

 

One in particular that really struck me:

After Smiley picks up the third team member from the apiary, they are all in the car with an errant bee buzzing around. The two men in the front futilely swat at it before Smiley simply cracks the window and lets the bee get sucked out by the draft. Simply beautiful.

 

 

post #61 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post

One in particular that really struck me:

After Smiley picks up the third team member from the apiary, they are all in the car with an errant bee buzzing around. The two men in the front futilely swat at it before Smiley simply cracks the window and lets the bee get sucked out by the draft. Simply beautiful.

 

 


That's a great moment because it reveals so much about the differences between Smiley and the rest of the Circus.  They flail around while Smiley solves the problem in an elegantly simple way.

 

post #62 of 143
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeb View Post

They gave his name to the communications officer (Collins in the novel) who gets the first report about Prideaux, but otherwise he's not in it. And while I don't know that he was my favorite character, Joss Ackland's Westerby is one of the unsung highlights of the miniseries.

 

I actually started rereading Honourable Schoolboy last week-- I'd forgotten what a terrible slog parts of it can be (it's nearly twice as long as Tinker Tailor), but I recall it paying off in the end.


It doesn't quite have the drive of the other parts of the "trilogy" and it's a bit of an awkward mix of stuff,  but I would still like to see something done there.  It's got George's tenure as head of the skeleton Circus.  It takes the Cold War global.  It's got a nice Graham Greene quality of corners of a fading empire and so on.

It's texture that's really good to have going in to Smiley's People, if nothing else.

 

post #63 of 143

I'll admit to being something of a John Le Carre fan and his gewneral frostiness, so it's probably not all that surprising that I'd take to the film so well. But seeing it back-to-back with Mission Impossible 4* made me actually adore it. It's reserved, quiet, and keeps it's emotions tucked deep down, and there's something I respond to on a gut level about that. And probably even more so when it's about grown men trying to keep a stiff-upper-lip in a profession that can all too easily result in somebody's death.

 

 

Mission Impossible 4 brought the pulp fun, this brought the sadness.

 

 

 

*Surprisingly the double bill really helped both films for me.

post #64 of 143

Very nearly saw Tinker, Tailor and MI4 back-to-back over Christmas weekend, but my brothers had already seen MI4 and talked me into seeing Fincher's waste-of-time version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo instead. Watched MI4 the next week and totally dug it. The two spy pictures do make a particularly nice juxtaposition for me-- Bond and Mission: Impossible were my childhood gateway into the more grounded espionage stuff like LeCarre'.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muzman View Post


It doesn't quite have the drive of the other parts of the "trilogy" and it's a bit of an awkward mix of stuff,  but I would still like to see something done there.  It's got George's tenure as head of the skeleton Circus.  It takes the Cold War global.  It's got a nice Graham Greene quality of corners of a fading empire and so on.

It's texture that's really good to have going in to Smiley's People, if nothing else.

 

If they really do plan to franchise this, I think it'd be a shame if they didn't try to take on the second book somehow. Getting to see Smiley first begin to move onto the attack from the devastated Circus would be great. I also want to see some actor tackle Westerby's upper-class twit dialogue, which just kills me. For all of LeCarre's reputation for being dry and cold, he can be really funny and warm a lot of times. 
 

 

post #65 of 143

Disappointed to discover that Julio Iglesias's version of "La Mer" that closed the film is not included on the "Tinker, Tailor , Soldier, Spy" soundtrack, at least on iTunes... Anyone know where I can find a good recording of the song?

post #66 of 143

It's from a live album called En el Olympia which is out of print.

post #67 of 143

Thanks. I did just find it online if anyone's interested: http://kiwi6.com/file/bq8g810y56

 

Makes we want to hear the rest of that album...

post #68 of 143

I didn't find the movie boring, but I did have a hard time caring.  It didn't help that the movie was quite difficult for this moron to follow.  I feel like an idiot.  I was in this weird limbo where I didn't understand the significance of the events unfolding, but couldn't make myself give a shit about anyone.  Yes, it was beautiful.  Yes, it was acted well.  Yes, the score was great.  On all technical levels it was great and that's what got me to the end. Well, and of course, Gary Oldman.

 

Part of me wants to see it again just to make better sense of it, but the other part of me groans at the prospect of watching small characters I can't relate to again. 

 

post #69 of 143

I found it pretty incredible. I was a bit lost at times, but the sheer craft on display guided me through the parts that confused me. Remarkably directed, edited, acted, etc, and while the first half was (purposely) dry and distant, I became much more invested as the film went on, and I was a bit taken aback by how emotional I found the closing montage, so cathartic after 2 hours of covered-up emotions and hidden agendas.

 

I won't pretend to know that I knew exactly what was going on the entire time, but I'm confident this film will reward further viewings. I listed Alfredsson as one of my Top 10 directors in this thread based on Let The Right One In and the hope that this would live up to my expectations. I think it certainly did, as this is a master-class in film direction.

 

Here's a wonderful article by David Bordwell on the film's storytelling techniques.

post #70 of 143

The great thing about Alfredson is that even though his movies are very cold, deliberate, and seemingly remote, both actually have an incredibly raw heart beating within. Sure, you have to work with him a bit, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with an artist demanding you attention.

post #71 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by wd40 View Post

I didn't find the movie boring, but I did have a hard time caring.  It didn't help that the movie was quite difficult for this moron to follow.  I feel like an idiot.  I was in this weird limbo where I didn't understand the significance of the events unfolding, but couldn't make myself give a shit about anyone.  Yes, it was beautiful.  Yes, it was acted well.  Yes, the score was great.  On all technical levels it was great and that's what got me to the end. Well, and of course, Gary Oldman.

 

Part of me wants to see it again just to make better sense of it, but the other part of me groans at the prospect of watching small characters I can't relate to again. 

 



The basic plot is actually pretty simple, but the movie (and the miniseries before it) makes it seem complicated. It is worth giving another look.

post #72 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post



The basic plot is actually pretty simple, but the movie (and the miniseries before it) makes it seem complicated.



No more so than the  book, really. Part of LeCarre's strategy is to put the reader in Smiley's place, working through the layers of relationships and betrayals, never entirely sure how much relative weight any particular part of the story might have until the end. As has been noted often, the story's not about uncovering the mystery, it's about what that process can cost.

 

post #73 of 143

LeCarre' does approach his plots obliquely-- which is why his novels can so hard to get into at the start. In later books, he doesn't even put you in a central position like Smiley's, instead giving perspective to characters who don't fully know what's going on, and obscuring the meaning of events from the reader too. I remember being a good stretch into "The Constant Gardener", for instance, before I even knew what the story was about.

 

But as Jeb says, it's not so much about uncovering the mystery-- LeCarre' left that conventional approach behind with the early George Smiley books.

 

I think Alfredson and the screenwriters did a great job at adapting that oblique style, especially for a two hour movie. There's a lot conveyed in those early scenes, and with a minimum of dialogue. But it all comes together by the end. Of course, I did have the benefit of having read the book-- a while back-- so I think for think for someone who went into it cold, the film might improve on a second viewing when it hits DVD.

post #74 of 143

While Smiley isn't Karla, I thought after watching the miniseries that there was definitely something ominous and shifty about Smiley. For all that he's seemingly saved the Circus and dispatched a mole, it's also the story of a guy who gets his revenge on the people who got him fired and, in particular, the dude who was shagging his wife. Given how neatly things work out for Smiley it's hard not to have doubts that everything was as it appears.

post #75 of 143

I think that's only in a world over familiar with preposterous conspiracy theories and Dun Dun Duuuunnn! Scooby Doo-esque third act reveals

post #76 of 143

I'm not necessarily holding that up as evidence of a TWOCKING SHIST!!! that I've uncovered, just that it always hinted towards the idea that Smiley's a bit of a monster. A monster on the side of the angels, but still. Probably what you need to survive at the spy game, kind of like a realistic James Bond.

post #77 of 143

I'm really going to have to track down and watch the miniseries again-- I don't get that impression of Smiley at all from the books or the Alfredson film. He comes across more as a reluctant warrior.

 

For instance: one of the clever things about Haydon's penetration of the Circus is that he's instructed by Karla to have an affair with Smiley's wife, to throw Smiley off his trail. If Smiley were ever to have suspicions about Haydon over the years, he would discount them because his judgement was clouded by their personal issues. It's not as though Smiley has been gunning for Haydon all that time.

 

That's not to say you're totally wrong, Prankster-- I'm sure, in the end, Smiley feels a good deal of satisfaction in nailing the bastard. Who wouldn't?

 

And in the film, they do present the necessary evils of intelligence work-- witness how Smiley withholds his knowledge of the girl Irina's murder from Ricky Tarr, in order to keep Tarr in the game.

post #78 of 143

Sure, textually, Smiley's a decent guy who wins one for the goodies. But he turns things around to his benefit so thoroughly and devastatingly that it ends up being a little creepy. Combine that with the themes of futility and bureaucratic tail-chasing, especially in the movie (Hayden's line "the west's become so ugly" really stuck out to me as a thesis statement), and what struck me as a highly ironic tone surrounding the "happy ending" (I mean, Julio Iglesias?) and I think there's a real undertone of unease about Smiley's "triumph". It's more a tonal thing than something that holds up under serious deconstruction, but I think it makes the character even richer.

post #79 of 143

^ I think that is correct about the 2011 film version. In the 1970's version there is much more emphasis on the political and philosophical aspects of the Cold War. John Le Carre is pretty open about his view that most of the activities of the Intelligence of both the West and East were pretty much useless in actually achieving anything.

post #80 of 143

It's a story that has a compromised "happy ending", certainly. That's the nature of Smiley's business.

 

But I reject Haydon's rationale for his betrayal, out of hand. It's much the same one Kim Philby gave for his. I'd hate to think that a parity between the free world and communism was the "thesis" of the film. The "West" as presented by the socialist Britain of the 1970s may have been a drab, unpleasant place, but it was still a damn sight better than the Soviet Union. And that difference was what Smiley was fighting for, when you get down to it.

 

A few posts above, I already stated my love of the use of the Julio Iglesias song in the film. I think it's a pretty un-ironic note of triumph. 

post #81 of 143


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slim View Post

It's a story that has a compromised "happy ending", certainly. That's the nature of Smiley's business.

 

But I reject Haydon's rationale for his betrayal, out of hand. It's much the same one Kim Philby gave for his. I'd hate to think that a parity between the free world and communism was the "thesis" of the film. The "West" as presented by the socialist Britain of the 1970s may have been a drab, unpleasant place, but it was still a damn sight better than the Soviet Union. And that difference was what Smiley was fighting for, when you get down to it.

 

A few posts above, I already stated my love of the use of the Julio Iglesias song in the film. I think it's a pretty un-ironic note of triumph. 



The point isn't to necessarily compare Britain's socialism with the Kremlin's Communism so much as it's underlining the decaying morality at the core of both nations and both ideologies. If they're both succumbing to the exact same shady methods to get the upper hand on the other, then how can they dare claim to be the superior nation/ideology? In the end, either way you're go, you're dealing with the same soullessness. The difference you're taking issue with is the "aesthetics" that are discussed in the movie. At their core, there's very little to distinguish either. That's what makes the movie so chilling. 

post #82 of 143

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post
I'm not necessarily holding that up as evidence of a TWOCKING SHIST!!! that I've uncovered, just that it always hinted towards the idea that Smiley's a bit of a monster. A monster on the side of the angels, but still. Probably what you need to survive at the spy game, kind of like a realistic James Bond.


Yeah, that's fair enough I guess.  I've not actually seen this yet, but as mentioned he is quite sympathetic and conflicted in the book.  That, of course, is because we're allowed into his thoughts.  I have often thought (and the books say as much from time to time) he'd come across quite strangely unsettling in person at times without that inner monologue.  In the miniseries he's given a lot of his inner thoughts to say to Guillam so that the audience get him more as they would by reading the book, and Sir Alec can turn on a dime to be friendly and scary as the interview requires it.  Alfredsson and Oldman seem to have given the character the impression you'd probably get from a short time with the guy.  Which is cool.

It is just a bummer seeing people leaping to wild speculations (not you, but elsewhere I've seen it too).  I guess it's not the end of the world, but sort of suggest the way plots have become this ludicrous pantomime of reversals in movies and TV.  I suppose it's been that way for a while really, but annoying all the same.

(I'm going on again...)

When people say stuff about stories like this and The Wire, how they're disappointing for throwing up this sea of information and then working through it (like real life); instead of the end being mostly obvious from the start with only twists to save it from being completely predictable (so everyone is predicting twists).  When people say even the book is poorly written because it doesn't spoon feed you in quite the way they'd like, our hopeless consumerism gets rather dispiriting.

 

Anyway, off topic.  Yeah, I'd say Smiley did become the ultimate interviewer and field operative over his years.  The ability to never really give anything away must have served him well.  The interesting bit is that, in the upper echelons you have to be at least part politician and Smiley definitely isn't that.  The decimation of the service may have left no one else to do the job but him, but it's not spoiling anything to say he's unlikely to be able to hang onto it unless he basically becomes Control mark 2. That's not really his thing and the government would make sure it didn't happen again anyway.  Something for movie 2 hopefully.

 

post #83 of 143

I'll have to disagree. There's a clear difference. The Soviets were much better at penetrating the intelligence services of the West than the West  was at  penetrating theirs, precisely because of the relative systems they operated under.  You may associate a moral value with these systems, or not. (I do.)

 

The history of CIA, for instance, is pretty much a catalogue of failure.  That's largely because-- despite its reputation for omnipotence-- it's been operating under our democratic, open system and is eventually (however belatedly) held to account. MI6 has this same problem. The Soviet system never  had this problem, and the openness of the West meanwhile provided them ample opportunities for penetration. Cue Philby, Burgess, Fuchs, Ames and Hansen (and the fictional Haydon)...

 

Of course, the aspects of Soviet society that made them so good at the "shady methods" of espionage are the ones that spelled the end of their system. So maybe LeCarre' had it right and all that cloak-and-dagger shit during the Cold War didn't mean anything. But, I gather that it meant something to people (like the fictional Smiley) at the time...

post #84 of 143

While there's no denying that I'd rather live in Britain or America in the mid-70s than the Soviet Regime, that doesn't let the west off the hook. If you like, it's basically the old saw about how struggling against a monster makes you into a monster. Hell, maybe that was even the Soviet's plan, the same way that Bin Laden and Al Qaeda tried to push us into becoming tyrannical and repressive. But considering some of the horrific, undemocratic shit the CIA pulled over the years, I'm not buying that the US and its cronies were weakened by their cleaving to the moral high ground.

post #85 of 143

It has nothing to do with taking the "high ground", it has to do with the culture itself.  In the Soviet Union, freedom of speech was never an issue, for example.  If you tried to pull off some shit in their lands you'd be thrown in jail or flat out executed.  Did some of that happen in the U.S.?  Yes, to a degree, but such abuses were nowhere as widespread as it was in the totalitarian Soviet Union.  CIA had nothing on the American public in comparison to the Soviet secret police agencies domination of their people. 

 

You still see shades of this today when it comes to foreign intelligence services stealing billions of dollars worth of R & D simply because the U.S., and U.S. companies specifically, publish a ton of crap freely through the open press (trade journals, universities, online databases, 3rd party developers and contractors, etc).  There's no question the West has a more open society than some of our global competitors, which is both a positive and a negative. 

post #86 of 143

Yes, I know that. I'm taking issue with the idea that the CIA or whoever was lousy at fighting the cold war because they weren't willing to fight as dirty as the Soviets, and that the Soviets were this unstoppable Sauron-esque threat because they had no scruples. Not only does this sound like the kind of logic that's been employed by chest-thumping conservatives right up to the present day (go to any Conservative website, you'll learn that the reason the US failed in Iraq or Afghanistan isn't that they were underfunded and understaffed or that the invasions were poorly conceived in the first place, it's that the soldiers are "hamstrung" by not being able to kill Iraqis indiscriminately), it doesn't seem to bear up, historically. Le Carre has since indicated that an awful lot of the paranoia about being infiltrated by Soviet moles was just that, rampant paranoia amongst people who had disappeared up their own bureaucratic ass and needed to feel like they were living in a dangerous world of secret intrigue. Check out this now-classic essay Le Carre wrote a few years ago, it makes it sound like, as down-to-earth as Tinker Tailor is, he was STILL romanticizing the spy game to a ridiculous degree.

 

Certainly, the more I read about that period in history, the more obvious it becomes that the Soviet Union was a decaying joke of an "enemy" by the late 70s, probably sooner. Granted, they hid it from the west pretty well, but an awful lot of the supposed looming threat of the Soviets was actually invented by people in the west in order to keep the money flowing to military contractors--Team B and whatnot. Which makes the right wing posturing of the 80s absolutely hilarious in retrospect, but I digress.

post #87 of 143

And even if the KGB and the Soviet Secret Police kept more documents on it's population than we can imagine, the CIA and MI6's actions at stiffling democracy and playing realpolitik on half of the world isn't all that excusible.

post #88 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post

Yes, I know that. I'm taking issue with the idea that the CIA or whoever was lousy at fighting the cold war because they weren't willing to fight as dirty as the Soviets, and that the Soviets were this unstoppable Sauron-esque threat because they had no scruples. Not only does this sound like the kind of logic that's been employed by chest-thumping conservatives right up to the present day (go to any Conservative website, you'll learn that the reason the US failed in Iraq or Afghanistan isn't that they were underfunded and understaffed or that the invasions were poorly conceived in the first place, it's that the soldiers are "hamstrung" by not being able to kill Iraqis indiscriminately), it doesn't seem to bear up, historically. Le Carre has since indicated that an awful lot of the paranoia about being infiltrated by Soviet moles was just that, rampant paranoia amongst people who had disappeared up their own bureaucratic ass and needed to feel like they were living in a dangerous world of secret intrigue. Check out this now-classic essay Le Carre wrote a few years ago, it makes it sound like, as down-to-earth as Tinker Tailor is, he was STILL romanticizing the spy game to a ridiculous degree.

 

Certainly, the more I read about that period in history, the more obvious it becomes that the Soviet Union was a decaying joke of an "enemy" by the late 70s, probably sooner. Granted, they hid it from the west pretty well, but an awful lot of the supposed looming threat of the Soviets was actually invented by people in the west in order to keep the money flowing to military contractors--Team B and whatnot. Which makes the right wing posturing of the 80s absolutely hilarious in retrospect, but I digress.



I take some issue with the assumption that people who feared the Soviets were somehow hypocrites who knew the USSR was a paper tiger and just wanted to goose their investment portfolios with Defense stocks or whatever. It is hard to imagine now, but from the creation of the Soviet Union right through the Fall of the Berlin Wall, many very intelligent and intellectually honest people thought the Soviet system was just as viable as the Western Democracies, and had just as much chance of winning in the long run. Historically there have been many more non-Democracies than Democracies. Also, Communism long enjoyed the perception of being "with the inevitable tides of history" to coin a phrase.

 

I can well imagine very thoughtful, intelligent people who really knew what was going on in the Soviet Bloc would react with horror and hear that 1) that system could take down the West and 2) was determined to do so.

 

I think that is one beef I have with the new film: history has moved on, and I think people have forgotten what it was like to live in the Cold War era. Hell I grew up in a military family in the 70's and 80's, and I have trouble remembering the mind set back then.

post #89 of 143

Yes, obviously most people had no idea what was going on behind the iron curtain and saw the Soviets as this unstoppable threat. But there were people in positions of power who were exaggerating it on purpose. I mentioned Team B above, check out the Wikipedia site --Wikipedia tries to stay somewhat objective, but look at the names involved. A bunch of guys who would NEVER exaggerate the enemy's strength and intentions for their own purposes, right? Even Bush the elder ends up describing it as "a process that lends itself to manipulation for purposes other than estimative accuracy."

 

Then, later on, Reagan was absolutely the arms manufacturers wet dream come true. The strategy of outspending the Soviets in an arms race was, in theory, not the worst idea, but in practice it was basically an enormous money hose for the arms merchants devoted to fighting off an enemy who didn't know how to keep a nuclear reactor running (and that should have made it absolutely crystal clear to everyone that the Soviets were crumbling). Even having been a kid at the time it was pretty obvious that the gun-runners were in charge during the Reagan years.

 

A lot of people were afraid during the cold war years. But that fear was absolutely encouraged to the benefit of a few.

post #90 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post

Yes, obviously most people had no idea what was going on behind the iron curtain and saw the Soviets as this unstoppable threat. But there were people in positions of power who were exaggerating it on purpose. I mentioned Team B above, check out the Wikipedia site --Wikipedia tries to stay somewhat objective, but look at the names involved. A bunch of guys who would NEVER exaggerate the enemy's strength and intentions for their own purposes, right? Even Bush the elder ends up describing it as "a process that lends itself to manipulation for purposes other than estimative accuracy."

 

Then, later on, Reagan was absolutely the arms manufacturers wet dream come true. The strategy of outspending the Soviets in an arms race was, in theory, not the worst idea, but in practice it was basically an enormous money hose for the arms merchants devoted to fighting off an enemy who didn't know how to keep a nuclear reactor running (and that should have made it absolutely crystal clear to everyone that the Soviets were crumbling). Even having been a kid at the time it was pretty obvious that the gun-runners were in charge during the Reagan years.

 

A lot of people were afraid during the cold war years. But that fear was absolutely encouraged to the benefit of a few.


I agree with the general point, but I'd add that very often high minded motives and personal advantage intertwine. So the CEO of General Dynamics benefited by the Reagan Defense buildup, but may genuinely have believed he was serving the country's best interests (I mean, he could have run Disney).

 

Likewise, the CEO of Blackwater, which has done some heinous things, apparently is utterly convinced he's on God side and that Islam is a major threat to Western Civilization. So in his head he's "doing well by doing good".

I think a similar process happened with the 2000's Iraq War: I think Bush et al really believed in those WMDs, and when they saw Intelligence reports to the contrary, they reacted by saying/thinking "Damn! That Saddam is really good at hiding those WMDs!". Yes it is not fact based reasoning; but I don't think you can necessarily say that everyone was in some cynical conspiracy.

 

All of this is to extrapolate the themes that Le Carre explores in Tinker Tailor into the real world. I guess we're all living in Smiley's world.

 

 

 

post #91 of 143

A few nuts and true believers can't do all this singlehandedly. I mean, when I look at, for instance, the fundamentalist Christian mindset today, it's so obviously being promulgated by hypocrites and cynics, that I'm not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. The fact that these people are clearly lying to themselves to an extent doesn't excuse it. I've long since stopped believing that situations like this involve people who are simply doing what they believe is best for their country, and they simply took a wrong turn. It's hard not to turn into a bit of a conspiracy nut when you learn that Dubya's granddad was part of an attempted fascist coup to overthrown democracy, or that people like The Family, who host the political crucial National Prayer Breakfast, exist. There are absolutely people in the upper reaches of power, who have been there for decades on and off, who are absolutely fucking evil and only care about enriching themselves or gaining power, through the subversion of democracy if necessary.

 

Of course, you're mentioning Erik Prince as if he's just misguided, which I don't get--how are his hateful beliefs, based on ignorance, racism and fanaticism, excusable because he thinks he's right? Everyone has an excuse for their behaviour at some level. And the WMDs thing is a perfect example--yes, I believe Bush himself was convinced there were WMDs, but the people around him knew better, or if they didn't, it was a self-imposed ignorance. See also the firing of General Shinseki when he suggested flaws in the upcoming invasion of Iraq. When you tune out everyone who disagrees with you, you don't get to claim that you "meant well".

post #92 of 143

You are encapsulating perfectly the problem the US has as a Democracy today. People who disagree with our views must be hypocrites and liars and evil, because if they weren't, why they'd agree with us!

 

See http://billmoyers.com/segment/jonathan-haidt-explains-our-contentious-culture/

 

post #93 of 143

I'm perfectly willing to believe a lot of people on the right happen to have different beliefs from me.

 

I'm also entirely willing to believe people who thought training groups like SAVAK was a morally okay thing to do might be bastards.

post #94 of 143

Sure, just like some (Not all) members of OWS are bastards.

post #95 of 143

Though I'd say the guys who trained the secret police force of an oppressive regime under the permission of their agency are a little worse than anybody but the most bastardly McBastard.

 

 

I mean until the OWS protesters actually manage to funnel large amounts of money into a would-be African dictator's pocket so he could violently remove the guy ahead of him and thrust his country into a couple of decades of absolute hell? The CIA might be a little more morally shifty.

post #96 of 143

Cylon, you're engaging in some pretty hardcore moral equivocating here. You should get a job at CNN.

 

Don't you think that if someone sets out to ACTIVELY DESTROY DEMOCRACY, that goes a little further than having an honest disagreement? I don't like it when, for instance, Republicans use "tax cuts" as a panacea for all our woes, but I'm sure some of them honestly believe that it will help the country. However, I think some of them know it will hurt and don't care because it will help them and their rich friends. Am I honestly not allowed to call the latter group a bunch of scumbags, while still acknowledging the existence of the former?

 

When I trash talk the CIA, I'm doing so based on their deeds, not their beliefs. If you support a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government and replace it with a murderous regime, as the CIA did in Chile? Yeah, you're kind of evil. I don't care what your reasons were; the absolute best you can say is that you did something horrible in the pursuit of a greater justice, though your motives have to be absolutely spotlessly clear for even that to work. If you can write something like that off with a shrug and a "oh well, let's agree to disagree", then I fail to see how anything can ever be called "right" or "wrong". Hitler? Oh yeah, he thought the Jews were engaged in a vast Zionist conspiracy and was trying to stop it by killing them! Let's all just agree to disagree!

 

Yeah, I just Godwinned. Deal with it.

 

Long story short if your "honest beliefs" are resulting in horrific atrocities, I don't think "they did what they thought was best" excuses anything. And that's not counting the people who literally have no motives other than self-interest.

 

 

post #97 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post

Cylon, you're engaging in some pretty hardcore moral equivocating here. You should get a job at CNN.

 

Don't you think that if someone sets out to ACTIVELY DESTROY DEMOCRACY, that goes a little further than having an honest disagreement? I don't like it when, for instance, Republicans use "tax cuts" as a panacea for all our woes, but I'm sure some of them honestly believe that it will help the country. However, I think some of them know it will hurt and don't care because it will help them and their rich friends. Am I honestly not allowed to call the latter group a bunch of scumbags, while still acknowledging the existence of the former?

 

When I trash talk the CIA, I'm doing so based on their deeds, not their beliefs. If you support a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government and replace it with a murderous regime, as the CIA did in Chile? Yeah, you're kind of evil. I don't care what your reasons were; the absolute best you can say is that you did something horrible in the pursuit of a greater justice, though your motives have to be absolutely spotlessly clear for even that to work. If you can write something like that off with a shrug and a "oh well, let's agree to disagree", then I fail to see how anything can ever be called "right" or "wrong". Hitler? Oh yeah, he thought the Jews were engaged in a vast Zionist conspiracy and was trying to stop it by killing them! Let's all just agree to disagree!

 

Yeah, I just Godwinned. Deal with it.

 

Long story short if your "honest beliefs" are resulting in horrific atrocities, I don't think "they did what they thought was best" excuses anything. And that's not counting the people who literally have no motives other than self-interest.

 

 


Well unless you have Magic Goggles that allow you to analyze the human Soul, or you have a Republican on tape stating "yeah I know Tax Cuts are bad for the country, but they're great for me!" then I say you can't paint with such a broad brush.

 

Re; The CIA, America has always had two competing philosophies: Realism vs Idealism. A Realist would say (as Jeane Kirkpatrick did) "hey it's better to have a stable Authoritarian regime who is on our side vs a Communist regime that is against us". An Idealist would be someone like, say, George W Bush, who thought once we knocked off Saddam Iraq would immediately blossom into a peaceful Democracy, and cause a Domino effect in the rest of the Middle East. Tell which philosophy you think is morally superior.

 

I'm not arguing that the actions of these people aren't horrible in many cases, or destructive to many people (eg tax cuts). What I'm saying is that, to go back to the subject of this thread, when you convince yourself that the people you oppose are evil, you can justify any number of actions that are destructive and self-destructive of your own.

 

And I'll see your Hitler and raise you Stalin! You think the George Smiley's of the real world in the 1950's were just selfish deluded fools? Maybe they were all too aware of what was really going on in the Soviet Union, and were determined to do anything to stop it from happening anywhere else. And in doing so, they cost people their lives, and lost their own souls.

 

post #98 of 143

Well, gosh. This sure got into the weeds in a hurry, if someone Godwinned...

 

Above, I was mainly making an operational point-- that the respective natures of the Soviet empire and the Western democracies greatly favored the Soviets when it came to espionage. To my knowledge, CIA never had a penetration agent, or a defector-in-place, on the level or  quality of the Cambridge Spy Ring, the Atomic Spy Ring, or post-Cold War moles like Ames and Hansen. And, depending on who you believe, there may have been a Philby-level mole in CIA over the bulk of the Cold War, who was simply never uncovered. 

 

This is due to the fact that our system was more open to public criticism and accountability. I'm pretty sure, for instance, that the Politburo didn't hold the equivalent of the Church Hearings, dragging the dirty deeds of their own  intelligence services into the light. Which is not to argue that CIA and other Western agencies didn't pull the same dirty shit-- like Guatemala, Iran, Allende, or enlisting the mob to kill Castro-- but we found out about it in fairly short order.

 

And it's also not to say that fear of the Soviets wasn't exploited politically, by both ends of the spectrum. Look at the imaginary "missile gap" Jack Kennedy used to help him gain the presidency in 1960. If Reagan was an arms manufacturer's wet dream, Prankster, he hadn't been the only one...

 

The point is this: most, if not all, of the details on this side of the Iron Curtain have all along been subject to some kind of oversight and scrutiny. I happen to think this is a good thing, don't you? And it argues well for why the West ultimately wore the white hat in that conflict.

 

One may argue about whether certain tactics were warranted. In a question of ends and means, it always comes down to what specific ends, and what specific means you're dealing with. In retrospect, I deplore many of CIA's actions, certainly. But the folks in the midst of a fight with an existential threat (the Cold-War was a much closer-run thing than it's now given credit for), did not have the benefit of hindsight. And any large organization, I think-- particularly a nominally-secret one operating in an open society-- is largely driven by incompetence, fighting blind, rather than malice. 

 

Even so, it's a filthy fucking business. But then, it's a filthy fucking world, isn't it?

post #99 of 143

Completely agree with you Slim.

 

But kudos to Prankster for pointing out that favoring Tax Cuts = Hitler. biggrin.gif

post #100 of 143

Dude? You are better than this.

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